Finding a manual grinder that offers the romance of a hands-on experience while still delivering on performance remains elusive in the coffee world.
One popular manual grinder praised around circles of at-home and professional baristas is the JavaPresse manual burr grinder.
This small, compact grinder promises stable, consistent grinding in a portable package. This is what we think of the JavaPresse and how it measures up to other grinders on the market.
difficult to hold steady while grinding deprecates grind consistency
unbeatable price among manual coffee grinders
our rating, based on our sound and impartial assessment
Being sturdy and compact enough to use for traveling is where the JavaPresse really shines. The price point makes it an excellent option for beginners or anyone operating with a strict budget.
Manual grinders are tricky pieces of equipment to evaluate; there are intrinsic problems with hand grinding like consistency and durability that force us to shift our perspective slightly when we consider performance.
When automatic conical burr grinders are readily available, we have to consider the reasons we give our time and attention to a hand grinder in the first place: cost, ease of use, and the thrill of grinding coffee by hand.
We have to trade in a few of our standards for performance when we opt for a manual grinder. So when a product claims to meet our expectations for grind consistency while still offering a portable, cost-effective product, we are excited to learn more.
Here are the features that we think make the JavaPresse stand out from the crowd.
Everything about the JavaPresse has been designed for maximum portability and this feature is no exception.
The crank hooks in at the top of the grinder but easily detaches to make the entire device even more compact. We like that the JavaPresse recognizes its strength as a portable grinder and includes this handy feature.
What we don’t like is that the hand crank can sometimes unhook while we’re grinding.
The grinding mechanism on the JavaPresse is a high-quality ceramic burr mill. Ceramic provides strength, durability, and precision to a coffee grinder and will stand the test of time over other materials, even stainless steel. The quality of the material surprises us given the JavaPresse’s lower cost.
The entire body of the JavaPresse is made of stainless steel. Somehow JavaPresse managed to create a grinder made from a durable material without adding weight and without adding to the price. There is a small window in the side of the body that lets you see into the lower compartment and monitor how much coffee you’ve ground.
In an attempt to produce a consistent grind, JavaPresse designed their burr mill to be a dual plate system where one burr remains stationary and the other turns. The idea is to increase stability, since it is the slight wobbling or shaking of a hand grinder that leaves room for error, resulting in boulders or fines. The company claims to have tested their dual plate system against 34 other competitors to ensure that their product made the most consistent grind.
Video: How do you stay grounded?
So how do these features make JavaPresse a stand-out product? This is what we think about this grinder’s performance and functionality.
This is by far the biggest selling point for the JavaPresse: it is absolutely compatible with traveling. The best features of the JavaPresse are all geared towards making it a completely portable piece of equipment.
Many coffee enthusiasts purchasing a manual grinder do so for the ability to take their coffee gadgets on the road. Even among manual grinders, which all operate without electricity and tend to be more compact than electric grinders, design elements can quickly become heavy and bulky.
The JavaPresse is lightweight and manages to do so without being cheap and flimsy. In fact, the stainless steel body means you can not only store the JavaPresse in your suitcase or backpack without adding significant weight, but you can also rest assured it won’t break or become damaged en route.
The detachable arm increases the JavaPresse’s points in this category. It’s a simple feature, but it packs a lot of practical punch. Instead of worrying about the arm crank breaking off during transport, it unhooks and lays next to the container quite nicely.
The stainless steel build of the JavaPresse is sturdy and durable. While there are a few components that are made of plastic, like the handle and some of the inner mechanisms, the build is solid enough to withstand travel and last through years of constant use.
Our main concern is that plastic is used to hold together parts of the burr mill itself. The burrs are made of ceramic, a quality material celebrated for its long lifespan and precision. However, the addition of plastic parts increases the chance of breakage.
This is just a minor detail considering most of the stress of grinding will go into the burr mills themselves, but it is worth noting. So far, the JavaPresse seems to stand the test of durability and overall, the JavaPresse uses some of the best materials out there.
As an added convenience, JavaPresse sells replacement burrs online just in case anything happens to the grinder over the years. It’s always good to know that a long-term investment has readily available spare parts: it’s cheaper to replace a couple of burrs than buy a new grinder.
The JavaPresse is simple to understand, but it is not always easy to use. The hand cranking will take a bit of strength and unless you want to break a sweat grinding coffee beans, it will take about five minutes of continuous movement to get enough grounds for a cup. While that isn’t an absurd amount of time by manual grinding standards, there are other hand grinders on the market that don’t take quite as long.
Gripping the JavaPresse is comfortable since the body is small and compact, but it is not particularly easy to hold the grinder steady. Some of the back and forth wobble while grinding is what contributes to uneven ground distribution and size.
Other than these two concerns, the JavaPresse is easy to load, easy to adjust, and easy to clean. There shouldn’t be much of a learning curve here.
As an added bonus, the JavaPresse grinds quietly, so it’s well suited for grinding at the office or in the morning before the household is awake. That’s a small feature, but one that makes the JavaPresse a flexible addition to your coffee collection.
Overall, we’d rate the ease of use at just slightly above average: there are plenty of built-in features to make this a simple process but there is still a bit to be desired from a mechanical standpoint.
Here is where the JavaPresse runs into the same problem that numerous other companies have in their attempts to create a reliable hand grinder: maintaining a consistent grind on larger grind settings.
Unfortunately, we don’t think the JavaPresse overcomes this challenge any more than some other highly rated products on the market do. It keeps up with machines like the Handground, Porlex, and Hario Skerton, but just like these grinders, it still becomes inconsistent with the larger ground settings.
The ceramic burrs and dual plate system are both quality, well-thought-out designs that result in a decent grind for brewing methods like pour overs or Chemex. However, as you go up in grind size, the JavaPresse loses quality and consistency.
A consistent grind forms the foundation of a good cup of coffee or espresso by allowing water to distribute over the coffee particles for even extraction. Hand grinders fall notoriously short of this standard when compared to their electric cousins so it is to be expected that the JavaPresse is not quite able to keep up.
Despite that shortcoming, JavaPresse still produces a decent grind for the smaller settings and is comparable to other quality hand grinders.
For a manual grinder, the JavaPresse produces decent grind consistency in a portable package. However, like most manual grinders, it falls short of being able to deliver a truly stellar grind, especially like those needed to brew french press or cold brew.
This is a great option for anyone looking for a grinder they can use for traveling without sacrificing the quality or performance too much. It’s straightforward enough for beginners to use and durable enough to be an extremely cost-effective purchase for the price.
In fact, the biggest and most pleasant surprise about the JavaPresse is the low cost. The JavaPresse competes with grinders that are double or triple its price. It’s rare that we find budget-friendly coffee gadgets that don’t significantly sacrifice quality or performance.
Let’s compare the JavaPresse to a few other high-rated manual grinders on the market: the Porlex, the Handground, and the Hario Skerton.
Like the JavaPresse, the Porlex is designed to be a travel-friendly grinder. These machines are quite similar: both have a stainless steel body, ceramic burrs, detachable handles, and a slender design. The Porlex is slightly smaller than the JavaPresse so it holds fewer beans.
The biggest difference, however, is the price: the Porlex is almost three times as much as the JavaPresse. Considering how much they have in common, that’s quite the difference. The Porlex does have a slight edge over the JavaPresse when it comes to performance because the burrs are spring loaded and more defined which produces a slightly better grind.
However, that slightly better grind is the only real difference between the two machines. The JavaPresse moves around while grinding just slightly and has a window for viewing how much coffee you’ve ground. Other than that, they perform almost the same, with the Porlex having just a slight edge. If you can get almost the same grind with all of the same quality and durability for a third of the price, the JavaPresse is the obvious choice.
Comparing the JavaPresse to the Handground or the Hario is a little different as there are fewer similarities in design. The weight and design of the Hario are not well-suited for traveling and while the Handground is sleek, it’s much heavier than the JavaPresse. Again, this is where the JavaPresse stands out.
For ease of use, the Handground is difficult to beat. The JavaPresse is simple and intuitive, but it lacks the numerical grind settings, gripping pad, and side crank that the Handground offers. The bulky shape of the Hario is difficult to grip while grinding, but the locking lid and gripping surface on the bottom a few user-friendly features. The JavaPresse is difficult to keep steady while grinding, but the slender shape is easy to hold so we would say it ties with the Hario for ease of use, depending on what is most comfortable for the user.
In terms of setting the grind size, JavaPresse falls somewhere in the middle. It’s not as user-friendly as the Handground’s simple numbers and camera lens method but it’s much easier to access the grinding adjustment on the JavaPresse than it is on the Hario. To adjust the grind on the Hario, you have to actually disassemble part of the top and access a small dial.
It’s difficult to judge the quality of grinding for a manual grinder when there are so many excellent electric conical burr grinders on the market. But overall, when you factor in the price point, the JavaPresse really does provide great value.
The ceramic burrs are durable, there’s a wide variety of grind settings, and the functionality is very user-friendly. We think it’s a particularly solid option for travelers or campers looking for a portable grinder that will get them good results.